“So how do Christians receive forgiveness?…Who could pay for our sins?” the young Muslim woman asked me. My friends and I then shared the Good News to eager, understanding ears.
What do you think about when you hear mission trip? A work project? Dispensing food and supplies to needy people? A medical team ministering to the sick? What if you could live among a group of people who perhaps have never personally encountered Christians—or met a ‘white’ person? What if you could spend two weeks in small island villages being salt and light and opening doors where there are zero Christians?
Fifteen believers from three Midwestern EFCA churches took a two-week trip to Southeast Asia. Since this area is a restricted access country, we traveled with a specialized tour group focused on reaching the un-reached Sea Tribe peoples. Since we were ‘tourists’ we were able to eat, sleep, and live among the island people. It did not take long for us to fall in love with these beautiful people.
Our tour guides served as interpreters. They were resident missionaries who are able to utilize our trips to make lasting contacts with the remote island people. The goal is to establish a beachhead so that the island people, too, will one day be among the nations of every tribe and nation to worship the Lord (Rev. 7:9).
We spent 4 days and 3 nights ‘roughing it’ on two different islands. The island stays were broken up by a few R&R days at ‘base camp’—a very comfortable island retreat center. We had gone hoping to perhaps get a chance to develop relationships deep enough to share a Bible parable or our testimony. We could not have imagined the openness of the islanders and the opportunities to deeply share the truth of the Gospel. The trip is perfectly suited to get to know the people and build relationships since our purpose is just to visit, hangout, and love the people.
Short-term missionaries rarely have the opportunity to have such direct evangelistic cross-cultural impact. Break-through in this part of the world is often the result of years of hard work and sacrifice by long-term missionaries. God is on the move in the un-reached people groups, and He is using people like us to be the ‘tip of the spear’.
The specialized tour groups are experts at training and preparing the ‘tourists’ for the island stays. We were ‘blown away’ by the opportunities to be part of God’s great work to make His glory know to all peoples.